The world of British television off and on the screen, as it was sixty years ago.

By The Horns

“TV Couple Tied Up by Gun Raiders” is the lurid headline in the Daily Express. Who can it be? It’s no-one famous. “Mr Edward Hillyer and his wife were watching TV when the men, both aged about 19 and carrying revolvers, opened the back door.”

And so, ITV did show the Orson Welles programme about the bullfight in Madrid. Cyril Aynsley, in the same newspaper, notes that it was introduced with an “ominous warning” but also that “Viewers who stayed did not find anything sufficiently terrible to justify such an introduction.” He believes that “long-focus cameras failed to capture the speed of the bull in the ring or the dexterity of the matadors.” Apparently there were only three critical phone calls.

The Daily Mirror’s Peter Wilson also saw the film and claimed that “it is a blatant attempt to whitewash bullfighting.” Noting a “long and rather boring preliminary by… Orson Welles and… Kenneth Tynan and his wife” these were followed, he says, by “some brief excerpts of an actual bullfight. What is not shown is the blood and agony of the beleaguered bull.” In summary, he says, “The barbarism is wrapped up in candy floss. As far as I was concerned, most of the ‘bull’ came from Welles and the Tynans.”

The Guardian’s London Staff (GLS) weren’t going to miss this, either, but unlike Wilson, GLS felt that “what might have been the most sickening punches were pulled. And wisely so.” Far from boring, GLS writes that the first half of them programme – until the advertisements appeared – “simply told one intelligently about the background of bullfighting, almost as though a foreigner was being shown behind the scenes at Lord’s”. GLS adds, “Fortunately, the notorious episode with the picadors where horses are gored was cut out” and “when the time for the kill came there was another adroit break – the film had again been cut.”

Away from the bullring, The Guardian’s Books Received column notes the arrival of The Television Annual for 1955, published by Odhams and available for 9/6.

Bernard Levin, The Guardian’s man about television in London writes on Mr Anthony Oliver, who told “a charming little story about the visit of an American film company to a peaceful Welsh village.” Levin adds, “He struck what is rare among solo performers on television, a perfect balance between staying in one place all the time and rushing madly hither and yon throughout. ITV has not yet found its A. J. Alan, but it may well have found the next best thing.” The title of this programme was Draw Up A Chair, something which Levin omits to mention.

Levin concludes his review with an apology: “Last week I attributed the Associated-Rediffusion programme Double Your Money to Associated Television. Since there has been no complaint, it may be that the former is not proud of the show, and the latter not ashamed.”

Lastly, the half-yearly meeting of the North Regional Association for the Deaf is reported in The Guardian. Of particular interest here is that a bill will shortly be presented to parliament asking for a reduction in the combined radio and television license for deaf people and the remissions of purchase tax on television receivers bought by organisations for the deaf. Lord MacDonald, the president, wants television’s place in the deaf person’s life to be recognised in the same way that radio’s importance to the blind had been.

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